The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) began a consultation on digital identity on 19th July, with the deadline for responses 15th September.
DCMS requested input on how it “can support development and secure use of digital identities . . . for the UK’s growing digital economy”, from those “who anticipate being a consumer or creator of digital identity tools or services and those focused on protecting civil liberties”.
The Conveyancing Association (CA) supported the idea of a government-led digital identity scheme which would be accessible by stakeholders and provide “one source of truth” to be relied upon.
The DCMS consultation floated the idea of making available individuals’ passport data to be used for digital identity verification. The CA welcomed use of biometric data.
The trade body expressed concern at the number, variety and cost of current identity checks and questioned if a paper-based system was the best way to combat fraud.
It outlined the role of identity checks in the process of buying and selling property and said that they were “vital in avoiding fraud”.
While the association acknowledged that digitising the process of identity verification may prove “bothersome” for those who do not access digital services, these would “become fewer and fewer as time goes by”, it said.
The CA wanted any digital standards set by the government to meet the needs of the conveyancing market and consumers.
It further suggested that digital identity could be linked to property, so that conveyancing firms could be confident they were dealing registered property owners.
Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association (pictured), said the association had advocated for a centralised government system for some time.
“As conveyancers, our members see this as the last blockage in the system in terms of validating the clients we deal with, ensuring they are who they say they are and that they own the properties we are dealing with,” Rudolf said.
“For some time there has been a lack of an acceptable standard and our response to this consultation highlights the what we want to see to ensure we can verify and authenticate our clients with the minimum of fuss and cost.
“It will help consumers in that they won’t need to provide multiple copies of their proof of identification in different formats to the many stakeholders within the process that need it.
“The conveyancing sector remains one which fraudsters will continue to target. However, given that much of the ‘successful’ property fraud perpetrated results from identity issues, it is imperative that we get to a new system,” Rudolf added.